Samuel W. Watson

Words - Julia Howland Photo - Australian National Academy of Music



I've started this article about a hundred times. I've deleted every attempt. I've re-read and re-wrote hundred of words. I've questioned every punctuation mark, every adjective, every letter.


Writing about a writer sucks.


I didn't know who Samuel Wagan Watson was. I had never read his writing. I knew nothing of his background. There, I said it.


I always get mildly nervous before any interview, primarily because I am usually only mildly prepared. This was no exception.


I did my normal routine of research thirty-minutes before and suddenly realised I'm about to be speaking with an Australian legend. Watson's work not only encompasses Indigenous Australia but his most predominant influences are my favourite American authors; think Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski. Nervous twitches ensue.


The phone interview begins with the sounds of young children playing in the background and I already feel a sense of humbleness. I start off with the usual boring questions: Tell me about your background, when did you start writing, why did you choose poetry, who are your influences. Thankfully his capacity for the insightful and engaging take over and I'm rushed into the world that is Samuel W. Watson.

Samuel WW

Although always writing and creating, his affinity for Ginsberg and the like began on a brief trip to Melbourne a number of years ago. His writing efforts tripled and a new found style began developing. As we have some alined favourites I find a lot of comforting similarities in Watson's work that I also find in those Kerouac-era authors': a sense of darkness coupled with hopeful insight and stark realism. Poetry has become his medium and a constant onslaught of sending out his works to whoever would accept it has brought him to where he is today.


Smoke Encrypted Whispers is a joint venture between Watson and 23 composers, creating a short piece of music to encompass each poem read by Watson. I was lucky enough to experience this exceptional collaboration first hand but there's plenty to listen to here.


It will not be difficult to keep up to date on Waton's movements. He's a very busy man and one that will surely enter into your world again.